Many of the smaller brands we carry also sell directly through their website, or Direct to Consumer (D2C). We don't necessarily see them as competition, nor do they see their shops that way. Everyone's main goal is to get you on a bike, but how we do that might differ just a bit - along with our motivations. We thought it would be informative for you, and mind-cleansing for us, to explain the ins-and-outs how D2C works, or should work.
Factor Bikes Case Study:
Not to pick on them, but we'll use Factor Bikes as an example, although Factor could easily be replaced with 3T, Allied, Moots, Chapter 2, Princeton CarbonWorks, and many others. Factor is a brand that has definitely gained momentum in the last year or so. Their Ostro and Ostro Gravel bikes are regular sights throughout the country. They've now got a product selection equal to most of the Big Four (Trek, Specialized, Giant, and Cannondale), and a quality level that's as good or better. Their main push is selling their frames and bikes directly through their website, but they also have a select dealer network sprinkled around the country.
As the manufacturer AND seller, they can control the production flow and the sales channels. And since they don't have to share any profit with a shop, they stand to make more money from a direct sale to you, So, what's the point of them having a retailer network (aka shops)?
Why do they bother with having a retailer network? And why do we bother competing with them?
Well, first, it's the nature of today's market. In the pre-internet days, manufacturers didn't have the ability to run their own shops, or the desire, but in today's world, people are more comfortable buying online, and it's quite easy to setup a website to allow people to click and buy. Oh, and if you can cut out the middle people, they can make a lot more money. But that's just the initial sale.
What good manufacturers know is that the commitment goes well past you getting a bike, and them getting your money. Proper assembly (the build), ongoing service, proprietary small parts that you'll need eventually, and warranties or recalls are all something that everyone has to plan for. While it's easy to setup a warehouse in any given country, with three or four employees cranking out shipments and fulfilling orders, it takes a lot more to handle the sales inquiries, emails, phone calls, warranties, and everything else that follows. So, it becomes important to still have somewhere that you, the consumer, can go when things go wrong. And somewhere can't be on the other side of the world, or even the US.
The smart manufacturers also see the value of having "people on the ground," aka shops that can help you. They still sell a bike, but a lot of the work is done by someone else. They make less money on a shop sale, but they also get a lot of customer service centers, aka places you can drive to and get shit fixed.
Why would you buy from us instead of Factor, or any other D2C brand?
Our prices match Factor's pricing shown on their site, we both charge sales tax, and our quoted delivery times are the same as theirs. However, our opinion regarding the right bike for you might vary, because we are here to put you on the right bike for you, not just the only one we sell.
Now, they may not want us to suggest another bike brand and they outright tell us that, but we see ourselves as objective bike brokers and take our credibility seriously. We'll clearly tell you if we think there is something about a bike that might not work for you. In the end, it's your money and your bike, but we owe that to you. Frankly, it's the fun part of what we do. Not telling you "that won't work," but helping you find what really does.
So, the price is the same, no matter where you purchase, but when it's through a shop, you get:
- Years worth of our personal experience, and years worth of us watching other customers make mistakes.
- An objective opinion on fit, or even an actual in-person Retul 3-D fit, which we highly recommend.
- An objective opinion on whether the bike suits your ride needs.
- A professional build, which ensures safety. If there is an issue, we can promise you that it will be resolved quicker.
- A build history that becomes a service history, ideally. That can be very helpful if you do have any sort of warranty issue.
- Enthusiastic attention when you come to the store. We won't lie, bikes bought from us get preferential service scheduling. We take care of those who support our business.